Reports & Indices Current Affairs - 2019

This category comprises Current Affairs 2019-2020 related to various reports and indexes / indices by National and International Bodies and organizations such as World, Bank, World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog and various other educational and research organizations. We also place report highlights of various committees and commissions in this category.

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ICMR calls for ban on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommended ‘complete’ ban on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including e-cigarettes. The recommendation is based on currently available scientific evidence.

On occasion of World Tobacco Day which was observed on 31 May, ICMR released a white paper (an authoritative report or guide that informs readers about an issue) about harmful effects of ENDS and e-cigarettes.

Key Findings of ICMR’s White Paper

  • Background: In 2018 Centre government issued an advisory recommending a ban on sale of e-cigarettes in India. Later a committee headed by K Srinath Reddy of Public Health Foundation of India (PHAI) was constituted which included experts from ICMR, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, AII India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh. The committee was tasked to analyse more than 300 research articles from all over the world and prepared the white paper.
  • Addictive: It noted that e-cigarettes and other such devices contained not only nicotine solution, that was highly addictive, but also harmful ingredients like flavoring agents and vaporisers.
  • Marketing: It found that availability of flavour variants and attractive designs are adding to allure of devices, and globally there was an increasing trend of e-cigarettes consumption among youth and adolescents. There are more than 460 different e-cigarette brands with varied configuration of nicotine delivery that come in over 7,700 flavours.
  • Worry: Use of ENDS or e-cigarettes can open a gateway for new tobacco addiction among the masses as on the balance, these have a negative impact on public health.
  • Effect on Health:  Prolonged use of ENDS or e-cigarettes has documented adverse impact on humans which includes DNA damage, respiratory/cardiovascular/ neurological Disorders, carcinogenic/cellular/molecular/immunological Toxicity and even have adverse effects on fetal development and pregnancy.
  • It rejected argument that e-cigarettes could help smokers quit tobacco consumption. Although such benefits of e-cigarettes consumption have not been firmly established but these devices could encourage non-smokers to get addicted to tobacco.
  • Youth: With large number of e-cigarette brands promoting thousands of flavors, the e-cigarette are fast becoming a trend among youngsters. Research has found that youths using e-cigarettes (or other such devices) are more likely to use regular cigarettes in later period. The exposure to ENDS increases the likelihood to experiment with regular products and increase intention to indulge in cigarette smoking.

Way Forward

These scientific and research data given in the white paper could help the government to formulate necessary policies on ENDS or e-cigarettes and other such devices.

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IMD World Competitiveness Rankings 2019

India has moved up one place to rank 43rd most competitive economy in world in annual competitiveness rankings compiled by International Institute for Management Development (IMD).

Key Highlights

  • India: has moved one notch higher to 43th rank (from its 44th position in 2018, 45th in 2017 and 41st in 2016.) in terms of competitiveness worldwide. This improved rank is result of India’s robust economic growth, a large labour force and its huge market size.
  • Singapore: The competitiveness chart was topped by Singapore that has toppled the Hong Kong and the United States to to take the top spot among the world’s most competitive economies. Singapore has grabbed top position for the first time in nine years. In 2018 it stood at third rank.
  • US: The US slipped to the third place in 2019 edition of the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings.
  • Hong Kong: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) has held onto its second position same as last year. This rank was due to countries benign tax and business policy environment and access to business finance.
  • Asia-Pacific: As per the study Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a global beacon with 11 out of 14 economies (that were studied) either improved or holded onto their ground.
  • Saudi Arabia: is the country that made its mark as the biggest climber of 2019. It advanced 13 places from 2018 currently to No. 26 this was due to strong investment in education.
  • Venezuela: embattled in turmoil hit by inflation, poor access to credit and a weak economy finished in last place.

About IMD World Competitiveness Rankings

  • The rankings were first started in 1989.
  • It ranks 63 economies on 235 indicators which are incorporated from each of these economies. The indicators are used to evaluate country’s ability to foster an environment where enterprises can achieve desirable sustainable growth, generate employment and increase its citizen’s welfare.
  • Gauge: The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Business School takes into account a wide range of statistics and hard data such as unemployment, GDP and government spending on health and education as well as soft data from an international business executive opinion survey on topics such as social cohesion, globalisation and corruption.
  • Categories: The economies were judged in four categories
  1. Economic Performance
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Government Efficiency
  4. Business Efficiency.

Way Forward

In the IMD 2019 rankings, although India has scored well on several economic parameters and tax policies but it still lagged in terms of education infrastructure, societal framework, public finance, health and environment. Thus challenge before India remains to address digital literacy and internet bandwidth in rural areas, to maintain high growth with employment generation, proper implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), managing fiscal discipline.

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